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Why ICT for Development (ICT4D)?
The term Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is used to describe a range of technologies for gathering, storing, retrieving, processing, analysing, and transmitting information but also for communicating in real-time. They provide access to information through communication mediums such as the fax, fixed-telephony networks, computer networks, mobile phones, wireless networks, the Internet, satellite technology, video-conferencing facilities, online video telephony and other communication mediums.
ICT applications have a profound direct and indirect impact on the political, economic, social, cultural and everyday life of a huge number of citizens in the developing world, including education, governance, job creation and e-commerce and thus on economic growth and social systems.
ICT development addresses important challenges that the developing world is facing, such as the 'brain drain' problem, and offers solutions to problems encountered in important sectors such as health, education, civil protection, protection of the environment, etc.
Access and connectivity to ICT are critical not to the technologies themselves but to the integration of developing and transition economy countries into the global knowledge society, supporting the social, economic and cultural integration of their societies and setting roots for enhancing efficiency and growth in key sectors of their economies. As one of several targets contributing to the development of a global partnership, Millennium Development Goal 8 defines the following objective for the international community: 'In cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications'. ICT applications are also powerful enablers for other areas of socio economic development with an indirect effect in other Goals (e.g. e-Learning for Goal n. 2: Universal Education, e-Health for Goals 4, 5 and 6: Child Mortality, Maternal Health and Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases).
Access to ICT applications will encourage borderless international cooperation and global engagement in order to address more efficiently major problems and challenges and enable enterprises, particularly SMEs, to be more competitive and effectively integrated and responsive in rapidly evolving world markets. Efforts also should be made to facilitate and encourage the flow of information and the sharing of experience and best practices among developing countries, particularly in the context of South-South cooperation, with a view to rebalance today's situation which is largely North-South based.